Editor's note: This is the lead item and jottings from Sid Hartman's Sunday, March 25, 1979 sports column in the Minneapolis Tribune. Also included in that piece but not mentioned here: Big Ten investigators checking rumors that former Gophers football coach Cal Stoll loaned money to players; the NFL receiving free rent for the 1982 Super Bowl in Detroit; Michigan State's Jud Heathcote as lead candidate to be next basketball coach at USC
Herbie Brooks’s prediction from the day the University of Minnesota hockey team reported for practice came true. The gophers coach predicted the team would go all the way and win the NCAA tournament.
Saturday night Brooks proved to be a good prognosticator when his team beat North Dakota 4-3 for his third NCAA title since he became coach seven years ago.
“I won’t let anybody forget it now,” he said after the game. “I knew we had the talent to do it if we played up to our ability. I’m glad Steve Janaszak hit his peak in the tournament games.”
All year long Brooks has been praising Neal Broten of Roseau, Minn., claiming he has been the best hockey player to wear the Maroon and Gold since John Mayasich. Broten lived up to all the good things Brooks said of him when he scored the winning goal last night.
“I tripped going over the North Dakota defenseman,” said Broten. “Their goalie came out to meet me and I was able to get the puck over his shoulder.”
Another hero was John Meredith, who scored only his second goal of the season but it was a big one: “I’ve been practicing this shot for three months an it paid off tonight.”
So the Gophers are NCAA champions and the only question now is how good they will be next year. That will depend on how many players make Brooks’s Olympic squad and how many turn pro.
BREAK FOR JANASZAK
Janaszak, the Minnesota goalie whom Coach Herb Brooks calls the Gophers’ best athlete over the last 10 games, wasn’t drafted last year by the NHL or the WHA. So the former all-around athlete at Hill-Murray is a free agent and will be able to sign with any pro hockey team.
Lou Nanne of the North Stars said he is set with goaltenders and won’t bid for Janaszak. But Jack Button, chief of the NHL Central Scouting System, is confident the Gophers’ goalie will get a pro contract.
Two of the three other seniors on the Minnesota squad – forward Phil Verchota and defenseman Bill Baker – were drafted. Verchota was taken by the Noth Stars and Baker by Montreal. Both hope to play for the U.S. Olympic team.
Baker, an all-WCHA pick for the second straight year, is almost a cinch to be chosen for the Olympic team. Verchota and such Gophers as Neal Broten, Steve Christoff, Robbie McClanahan and Tim Harrer also have a good chance to make it.
Brooks is trying to sign John Donnelly, the all-state Edina East forward and defenseman … Minnesota isn’t interested in sponsoring the NCAA hockey tournament because of the big guarantee of NCAA demands … Jim Jetland, the Gophers’ backup goalie, will join the Minnesota baseball team next week. He is an outstanding pitcher … Don Micheletti said he won’t sign with Washington unless he is offered an outstanding contract. With the merger expected between the WHA and the NHL, there will be a lot of hockey players looking for work. Most of the NHL teams want their draftees to finish their college competition.